© Jim Everett / Saddo Boxing
On Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Joe Calzaghe kept his undefeated record intact by putting on a dominating performance against Roy Jones Jr.
Calzaghe, 46-0 (32), rose from the canvas in the first round and not only recovered but won every other round against Jones, 52-5 (38), in front of 14,000 fans by scores of 118-109 on all three of the judge's scorecards.
Before getting into the fight, I would like to paint an atmosphere picture for the readers to get an idea of the British presence in New York City. As I approached Madison Square Garden, walking down 33rd street and passing by a string of a few different bars and pubs, I could see that not only were most of them filled, but also people spilling into the streets, laughing, having fun and talking about how Calzaghe was going to win a victory against Jones.
It was difficult to mistake the origin of the fans streaming into the streets as most had on some type of clothing or costume (yes, I did say costume) representing the flag of Wales. Some wore the flag as a cape, some had scarves or shirts with elements of the flag but the costumes were the most festive including a green, red and white wig, a Wales warm-up jacket, the Wales flag tied around the waist, some type of drinking goggles and a blow up daffodil, the national flower of Wales.
Inside the “Mecca of Boxing” as the undercard fights dragged on, the pro-Calzaghe crowd sang and would roar with excitement anytime their hero would appear on the screen.
As the fighters made their way out to the ring for the main event, the atmosphere was electric as Calzaghe walked in with ex-WBO Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli holding Joe's Ring Light Heavyweight Championship belt in the air.
During the first round, both fighters were exchanging well, but Calzaghe was hurt towards the end of the frame by a Jones punch that appeared to be more forearm than glove. Although Calzaghe seemed dazed and hurt, he made it to his feet and was able to withstand Jones’ attack for the remaining forty seconds of the round.
Calzaghe later said, “My power is in my recovery. Anyone can fall on the floor. How you recover is what matters. I think it showed my heart, and I came back twice as strong. I've been knocked down before, and when I get knocked down I come back stronger.”
The second round was full of action as Calzaghe landed a flurry of blows to the body of Jones as Roy lay against the ropes. While Calzaghe spent most of the round working the body of Jones and getting him pinned on the ropes, Jones caught Calzaghe with some big rights that did appear to hurt the Welshman.
During the third round, Jones seemed to take a page out of his playbook from his first fight with Antonio Tarver by holding his gloves up in front of his face, absorbing shots to the body and head and not returning anything. Calzaghe became even more comfortable, keeping his hands at his side and leaning his chin forward to taunt Jones, who rifled out a four punch combination which Calzaghe dodged and weaved not letting one of the punches land.
The next few rounds found Calzaghe gaining more and more confidence and landing more and more punches. Jones continued to defend himself by holding his gloves up in front of his face and lying on the ropes, while occasionally picking a few shots to fire out, one at a time.
Calzaghe landed a huge shot in the seventh that ripped open the left eyebrow of Jones, although the eye was streaming blood at times, Jones fought on. Calzaghe dominated the remainder of the fight, but it was also apparent that he let his work rate drop in the last few rounds, as he played to his fans and was thoroughly enjoying the experience.
After the fight, Calzaghe was respectful of Jones, saying “I love the way Roy fights. I knew with his style it would be a good fight. I have a lot of respect for Roy Jones. He is a great fighter. Roy showed that he has heart. He fought all twelve rounds. It was almost dangerous, but he kept going.”
“I’m just so happy,” smiled Calzaghe about his performance. “This year I beat two legends in Hopkins and Jones, and I came to the United States to do it. I took the risk. They didn't come to me. I came to them. I came to New York City make it happen. I made it happen tonight.”